By Adrianna Larimer
Anti-fog agents which are also referred to as anti-fogging agents and treatments are different types of chemicals used to prevent condensation from water as small forms of droplets along a surface. The condensation from water as small droplets is what resembles fog. Anti-fog treatments were first created by NASA while Project Gemini was taking place. During one of the first space suit space-walk tests, one of the astronauts had fogged up his helmet visor. This created the process of NASA developing the anti-fog treatment/solution, and the anti-fog technology continues to improve and perfected till today. Nowadays anti-fog treatments can be used for the simplest things like transparent glass or plastic surfaces used in optical applications like a pair of glasses, a camera lens, and even display mirrors. Anti-fogging treatments are constantly improving and evolving to change with the times and needs. Some of the most popular chemicals that are used in anti-fog solutions and treatments are known as surfactants and the surfactants act by minimizing any surface tension of the water.
The way anti-fog treatments work is by minimizing surface tension which results in non-scattering film of water instead of any water droplets. This is usually done by a surfactant film or a hydrophilic surface.
There are many different rumoured ways to get rid of fog from glasses, objects, and different surfaces but a lot of them don’t actually work or if they do can damage the object or surface. Here are some examples that aren’t the best anti-fog methods.
- A naked flame. Using fire to treat glasses for fog can actually damage them and it may even deteriorate the anti-fog properties that may be in the glasses already.
- Toothpaste. Toothpaste can actually work as a temporary anti-fog agent but it isn’t recommended because it can damage the glasses over time. Toothpaste could even remove any anti-fogging properties already placed in glasses.
- Detergents such as shampoo, soap, and shaving creams also act like toothpaste and can work against fog but it can have negative effects over time on the object or surface the solution is used on.
Anti-Fog Uses and How To Use It
Like said above, Anti-Fog treatments are effective in reducing and overall preventing fog from forming on many various types of surfaces. These types of surfaces can range from refrigerator and freezer doors, bathroom mirrors, windows, cameras, and even binoculars. With these anti-fog treatments, many things can function greatly without the hassle of fog. For example, Glasses are subjected to fog in many ways, whether it’s cold outside or hot steam blowing up onto the glasses. With an anti-fog treatment, glasses without an anti-fog coating can temporarily function a lot better with the glasses fogging up.
Using Anti-fogging solutions and treatments is quite simple but to be effective the anti-fogging treatment needs to be applied correctly and it will need to be applied as frequently as needed. Whether the appliance is glass or plastic surfaces here are some basic instructions to follow so that the proper steps are taken to be applied correctly.
- For this first step, a clean lense, glass or plastic surface is a must. So clean the appliance that needs an anti-fogging treatment thoroughly before applying the treatment.
- The next step is very simple. Shake the solution for the anti-fogging treatment thoroughly before applying it to any surface.
- Next, is applying the anti-fogging treatment solution to the object or surface that is needed for the treatment. Make sure that the object or surface in need is completely covered and if a lens, consider applying the solution to both sides of the lenses.
- With different anti-fogging treatments, the directions vary so wait a minute or so before wiping off the anti-fogging solution. If the surface that got the anti-fogging treatment is cold then consider waiting a bit longer or until dry.
- Finally, Wipe the surface or lenses that the anti-fogging solution was used on with a lint-free cloth until deemed clear. Avoid using a wet cloth because it can remove some of the anti-fogging solution from the object or surface. With this technique, there will be a nice clean shine to the object or surface.
While these steps and processes work well for the majority of anti-fogging surfaces, there may be other considerations.
- Swimming goggles and/or diving masks may require a specific or special anti-fog solution because they can be in constant contact with water. A basic or regular solution will likely wash off easily.
- In extreme conditions or environments, eliminating fog can be difficult or not possible. For example, going from freezing temperatures to hot and humid environments.
- How much the anti-fog solution is applied is pretty important. A lot of anti-fog solutions can be easily removed with water, like in rainy conditions, so you’ll need to reapply if lenses get wet.
- For any sports, apply the solution before each or any event, game or practice.
- In any environment where fog can be a constant present (e.g. construction, manufacturing, service), applying anti-fog solutions more than once or quite frequently may be necessary to how you see fit.
With the proper tools used and a consistent process, keeping any glasses and surfaces clear of fog is quite simple. This can range from sports safety all the way to safety in work environments and even everyday wear of glasses and sunglasses. Anti-fog treatments can be a lifesaver in many cases but overall they can just be useful in everyday solutions.